Ray Charles statue in the garden of the Palace Hotel, Montreux, southwest Switzerland.
Known mainly for its July Jazz Festival, Montreux is a calm and affluent little town with a warm and sunny micro-climate on the edge of Lake Geneva, offering lovely lakeside walks along Promenade Fleuri with flowers blooming and stunning views, attractive buildings and panoramic views across the lake to lower Alps. Main activities involve walks, admiring the statue of Freddie Mercury on Promenade Fleuri, views of Château de Chillon just along the coast and excellent, serious hiking nearby.
Lake Geneva; Montreux city centre on the right, despoiled by one monstrously out-of-character hotel tower block.
Queen, Freddie Mercury
But then the rampaging hordes of package tourists appeared, clustered around Freddie Mercury and laying waste to bars, ice-cream parlours and burger stands.
The first weekend of September is Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day while the two week Montreux Jazz Festival is held in July. Actually, non-jazz fans, the festival frequently features artists who are in no way jazz related.
Queen Museum (free)
Nearby the Freddie statue is the Queen Museum (Queen Studio Experience) in the Casino Barriere de Montreal. It’s small and set in part of the original recording studio, displaying memorabilia, historical notes, tributes to Queen, reading anecdotes, looking at original hand written compositions and watching a short documentary film. Fans find it easy to pass and hour or so there listening to greatest hits and absorbing some of the magic.
Interestingly the Casino was one of the original venues of the jazz festival and was gutted by fire during a Frank Zappa concert, immortalized in the Deep Purple song ‘Smoke on the Water’.
Walks by the lakeside east of Freddie. See a proper hike below.
The flowery walk from along Promenade Fleuri from Montreux train station to Chillon castle is gorgeous, especially on a sunny day, and takes about 45 minutes. On Fridays there’s a substantial market along the shore front.